So let’s talk about Mom Guilt. Supposedly, this is a terrible bout of self-doubt and guilt that only effects Working Moms. WRONG. As a SAHM (Stay-at-Home-Mom) I can attest to the fact that I, too, am a victim of Mom Guilt—as are many of my SAHM and WM (Working Mom) friends alike, and it’s an epidemic that’s changing our society.
Many define Mom Guilt as the WM’s nightmare and relate it exclusively to daycare—putting their child in daycare whether by choice or necessity they feel guilty—as though they are failing their child and passing them off on someone else. (Note: Just because your kid is in daycare DOES NOT make you a bad parent. Stop letting the “haters” get in your head. You’re doing what is right and best for you and your family. You’re a good mom.) The more accurate definition would include the fact that we ALL have Mom Guilt, in some way, shape or form. All moms wonder if they pay enough attention to their child. Does their child really feel loved? Every mom feels like a failure—A LOT. If you don’t, you’re fooling yourself—come down off your high horse and join the rest of us. I’m not saying you can’t be confident in your mothering abilities, I am just saying that we all wonder are we doing enough? Could we do more? Are we doing it RIGHT?
We know being a MOM is the most important job we will EVER have—and we are anxious about screwing it up—screwing our kid up. The fact that we’re even worried should give us pause. We are fully aware of how important it is—how high the stakes are. So why would we think we’d give anything less than our best to ensure we are successful? Hot damn. We need to give ourselves more credit. The fact that we even worry about doing a good job should be worth something, right?
As a SAHM with one child—I am living a Mom Guilt Free dream—I can devote every waking hour to my son and am thankful that I have the opportunity to do so, right? Seriously? Get a clue. I feel Mom Guilt—ALL THE TIME. When I lock him in his high chair and throw a few snacks at him so I can take a shower—I feel Mom Guilt. When I let him roam around the house amusing himself and find him playing ALONE in his room—I feel Mom Guilt. God forbid, I try and watch the last five minutes of the tv show I was watching during naptime—I feel Mom Guilt. When I pass him off to Daddy for a bath and bedtime—I feel Mom Guilt.
My friends with two or more children are also constantly drowning in Mom Guilt. They feel as though they are always gypping one of their kids out of attention. Let’s not even talk about Moms with multiples. Yikes. (I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the reason siblings were “invented”? Even if you mostly hate each other—you’ve got a best friend for life!)
We want to challenge our kids, make them feel loved, teach them how to be a great person. Each of our actions tells our children something about us—are we worried that they will follow our example–of spending time away to shower, cook dinner, take care of household things, attend social gatherings and talk to other adults? Is that why we feel Mom Guilt? Why is it that we think “ignoring” our kids for five seconds will be the only thing that sticks with them? Isn’t learning independence and self-sufficiency something our kids need to learn? We feel Mom Guilt when we make them wait for anything—shouldn’t this be a red flag? In our world where instant gratification is the norm is it so terrible our child have to learn to wait? Is it a bad thing for your child to see you taking time to tend to something other than them? We feel Mom Guilt when we leave them behind because of work or social obligations. Isn’t it okay if they get to know a babysitter—can’t they learn something from that? Aren’t most moments that we feel Mom Guilt also teachable ones?
Mom Guilt is changing how we parent our children, thus it’s possible it’s changing the kinds of kids we are raising. Just consider the possibility. Mom Guilt feels bad, so we try to alleviate it. How? More attention, less waiting, saying “Yes” more than we should because they deserve it since they’ve been so “good” waiting for us to do whatever it is we needed to do that took the attention away from them. We’re living in a world where saying “No” to our children is taboo. The bigger fit they throw the farther we let them go, because clearly we’ve somehow neglected their needs.
I don’t know if you’ve been living under a rock lately or what—but the current generation of children is facing some “challenges”: including being out of touch with reality, an astounding lack of social skills, being disrespectful to adults, wanting more and more things NOW. As a teacher, I’ve seen this first hand—talking back to adults is the norm, having the parents side with a child is the norm, putting in zero effort and a whole lot of excuses is the norm. Society keeps saying “oh, they’ve got it tough”. We blame their behavior on the economy, their home life, and pretty much anything and everything else: we actually make excuses for them.
I theorize that there is a connection between this behavior and Mom’s trying to get around Mom Guilt. Think about it. Feeling a bit of Mom Guilt may not be that bad for you or your child after all. Of course you want to be responsive and take care of their needs—you’re doing that aren’t you? Your children are fed, generally happy and safe. Yes? Then, you’re doing a good job. I don’t mean to oversimplify it because being a parent is so much more than those things—but we need to start giving ourselves a little credit. From my experience, Mom Guilt never goes away—as soon as you think you’ve gotten rid of it, it rears its ugly head again! Knowing this, we need to learn to live with Mom Guilt. Nothing we can do will really ever get rid of it for good, so we need to change how we react and conquer it. More than that we need to be AWARE of HOW we react to it and attempt to conquer it.
So what you’re saying, Kayla, is that I suck at being a parent and the Mom Guilt manifests itself into ruining this generation of youth?
No. That would be some serious Mom-on-Mom “hate”. I am just trying to address and make sense of this feeling that I have and think there may be a connection to a bigger issue. I admit that I give in to Baby T for things that maybe I shouldn’t because of Mom Guilt—I’m not standing on a soapbox pointing fingers—please don’t misunderstand me. I’m just trying to figure this out—just like you.
We need to find healthy ways to respond to Mom Guilt. The first I suggest is the obvious: remind yourself that you’re a great mom—and you’re doing your very best. The second is acknowledge that your baby will really be okay if you cannot give him your undivided attention for ten minutes—if you need something more than that (like me) consider what they could learn from the situation. The third thing that I’ve been working on is spending a half an hour of dedicated time with Baby T each day where I am just totally and completely focused on him. This is the main reason I implemented Tot School. So I know that for a half an hour every day he is feeling some full on rays of love from his Mama. This could be as easy as always eating dinner with your child or a bedtime routine. That way in the craziness that is everyday life we know that our child can spend some time each day connecting with us because when it comes right down to it—it’s quality not quantity of time which matters.
In a world where there is a lot of Mom-on-Mom “hate”—we need to cut ourselves a little slack—we’re all struggling with different degrees of the same thing: Mom Guilt. Shoot—maybe that should unite us as one!
What Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding hath torn apart, let the Mom Guilt Unite!
SAHMs have Mom Guilt, WMs have Mom Guilt, Moms with one kid have Mom Guilt, Moms with a brood of kids have Mom Guilt, Crunchy Moms have Mom Guilt, Preppy Moms have Mom Guilt, even the Moms that have it all “together” have Mom Guilt. And most of the time this Mom Guilt that we all feel is blown out of proportion (by ourselves) and undeserved. We really are our biggest critics.
Being a mom is hard—really hard. We need to start reminding ourselves of this: YOU ARE A GREAT MOM—YOU ONLY GET BETTER AND BETTER WITH EACH PASSING DAY. YOU LOVE YOUR KID(S). Stop feeling so bad—you’re doing your very best. You’re giving your all. You’re going to make mistakes but that’s life—it will NOT ruin your kids. You know what you’re doing. Take a deep breath. Remember, you rock, Mama!
How do you handle your Mom Guilt?
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